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Friday, August 5, 2011

Flu Season - The Worst Time Of The Year!

By Ricardo Henri


Flu (influenza) seasons are the months of the year when many persons have it and it's easy to become infected. Outbreaks often begin suddenly and occur primarily in the late fall and winter. It is a respiratory disease caused by a number of different viruses. Vaccines are routinely given in the fall, before the onset of the flu season and are available as an injection or nasal mist. Injections are most important for: people 65 or older, nursing home patients, children over six months old, people with health problems such as asthma or with chronic diseases, such as HIV or heart disease, children or teen-agers who must often take aspirin, persons who are frequently around older persons or those with health problems. Symptoms can be mild or severe - and if they're mild can become severe without any notice.


Should you get infected by the virus, you will usually feel symptoms 1 to 4 days later. Symptoms of the flu may include: fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, dizziness, diminished appetite, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, weakness, ear pain, diarrhea. They can come on suddenly and are usually worse than those of the common cold however; having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, may have similar symptoms. It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of these signs alone.

should you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about your illness, particularly if you are at high risk for complications, you should talk with your MD. Based on your signs, your MD can usually ascertain wether you have influenza, especially during times when a lot of it is going around. After five days, fever and other signs have usually disappeared, but a cough and weakness may continue for a while. All symptoms are usually vanished within a week or two.


2 forms of flu vaccines are available in North American: The "flu shot" - an in-activated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is injected with a needle, usually in the arm OR the nasal-spray - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause (sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine" or FluMist(R)). On October 24, 2007 CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended expanding the utilization of the nasal influenza vaccine LAIV (FluMist) to include healthy children ages 2-4 years old without a past history of asthma or recurrent wheezing.

Anyone who's at risk of getting very ill needs to get a flu shot, or vaccine. It's good for kids who are around older people and younger kids (like little brothers and sisters) to receive the vaccine also. If you get the vaccine, or shot, it will protect you from getting a severe case of the flu. Whichever one you get, you need to get a new vaccination each year because the flu virus changes every year and the vaccine is created to kill the viruses that are going to be a problem that year. The flu vaccine is generally offered between September and mid-November, although it may be given at other times of the year. Because it prevents infection from only a few of the viruses floating around that can produce flu-like symptoms, it is not a guaranteed protection against getting sick. Call your physician or local public health department about availability in your area.


A lot of people treat their flu by merely Resting in bed, Drinking lots of fluids, Taking over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can create complications if you get a bacterial infection, which can cause pneumonia in your weakened lungs. Treatment is usually not necessary for children, but if the illness is recognized early and the patient is at risk of developing a severe case, it can and should be started. Treatment will only help however; If started early and only if the illness is really the flu. Treatment includes bed rest and lots of fluids; anti-viral drugs may also be prescribed.


Influenza usually begins suddenly and may include these symptoms: Fever (usually high), Headache, Tiredness (can be extreme), Cough, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Body aches, Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults). A doctors exam may be required to if you have developed the flu or a complication. There are tests that can determine if you have influenza as long as you are tested within the first 2 or 3 days of illness. In some persons, the illness can cause serious complications, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of on going medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. The flu can produce mild to severe illness and at times can cause death.

Although most healthy persons recover from the flu without complications, some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health ailments (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), are at high risk for serious complications. The virus usually spreads from individual to individual in respiratory droplets when people who are infected cough or sneeze. People occasionally may become infected by contacting something with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. The single best way to protect yourself and others against the flu is to get a vaccination annually.

The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy persons and persons with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease). October or November is the best time to receive a vaccination, but getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be healthful since most influenza activity takes place in January or later in most years.

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